A UK construction company has been charged £13,500 for not protecting pedestrians walking under the boom of an aerial lift.
The 29 year-old man was walking along the pavement/sidewalk in Camberly High Street, Surrey, in May last year and passed under the boom of a truck mounted platform that was working on the façade of a building.
As he did so an 8kg block of stone was dislodged by platform and fell from the building, striking the man’s shoulder, leaving him with cuts and bruising.
An 8kg block falls from the façade work overhead
The company operating the lift, Portsmouth based Majestic Construction was installing pigeon spikes on the building over a row of shops. The incident was captured by nearby CCTV cameras.
A closer look shows how close the block was to the man’s head
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that although barriers had been placed around the lift’s outriggers, but nothing was done to prevent anyone from walking directly underneath the boom or the work going on overhead.
The man is struck on the shoulder by the falling block
At a hearing last week, magistrates were told that some of the barriers were being moved to provide a safe-working cordon further along the street where the lift was heading to next, but nobody warned the pedestrian to stand back or to be aware of the overhead work.
Majestic Construction was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,473 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said: “This was an entirely preventable incident that resulted in a large chunk of masonry being knocked onto an entirely innocent pedestrian. It is pure luck that it missed his head, otherwise he could well have been killed.”
“Simply fencing off the area beneath the works and providing an alternative route around it is all that was necessary. Where people are working overhead in a public area they must exclude the public from the work area wherever possible. Public safety needs to be proactively managed in exactly the same way as that of those undertaking the work, and not just left to chance.”
We frequently publish Death Wish photos on this website showing boom lift and telehandler users as well as the occasional crane, working over the heads of pedestrians.
Mostly though ignorance or laziness, sometimes because redirecting pedestrian walkways for the short period the work will last is too much of a challenge. This lucky escape shows why it is so important to keep the area under booms free of people as much as possible.